Friday, 22 March 2013

EMP Thoughts on Tutu Construction

In my last post I touched on my thoughts around what it was like to finally learn the process of tutu making, I thought it would be a good idea to elaborate on that and the relevance  it has to my studies.

I never expected I would have specialised in ballet during the course of my degree, but the allure of learning to make a tutu was huge, hence, here I am. I have discovered over the three years that I am certainly a perfectionist and I thoroughly enjoy careful, neat and decorative work. I knew a tutu was difficult in its construction, but I am really enjoying the methodical processes; I am already planning my next tutu. That's not to say I have not struggled with the making process, I have had an absolute nightmare with a 'floppy' tutu, compared to the other girls, my tutu seemed to look more bell shaped than plate shaped and this has continued to irk me throughout the whole project. Nevertheless I like to look upon these things as a learning process! Here's a few thing s that I have learnt out of this problem.

  • Firstly, these ARE robust items indeed, at first I was worried about touching it in case if fell apart, but because of the drooping I had to re-string it and handle it far more than I would have done if it had been more pancake shaped. This meant that I had a lot of confidence in how well I had built the tutu, after all, in reality they would need to survive, hours and hours of dancing.

  • The length of steel in the hoop does make a big difference: Our tutor did say that hooping the tutu was the hardest part to get right. I did not put enough steel into it in the first place- I thought if I removed the steel and added a longer piece then this would rectify the floppy issue. It did not, it just made a really awful shape...

  • You can never have enough strings: Lots of strings help to control the net just how you want it. I tried putting strings in everywhere to help combat my droopy tutu. They helped a bit.

  • Net quality is a huge factor: We were advised at the start to try and get the best quality net possible, specific to tutu making, the net was better than some, but it is my final conclusion that it was the net that was the major cause of my problem-

  • ...unless.....being a neat stitcher my pleats were very uniform which helped to create a beautifully smooth tutu. This did however make it very flat, with a distinct lack of body (a bit like straightened hair), I wonder if this also added to my little problem.

  • Other thoughts considered were the size of the layers as I cut a medium sized tutu and also where the channel was sewn in for the hoop- next time I would try and sew it further out to give the net layers more support.


Ideally I'm hoping that this niche skills will make me a valuable asset to someone, but I have enjoyed making them for the sake of art and beauty, something that I looked at in depth during my dissertation- the tutu is symbolic, as Balanchine famously said "Ballet is women" and ballet is synonymous with the layers of pleated net that show off the long lines of leg and foot work so prized in the art form. As I really enjoy this genre of performance, being able to have the skills needed to build an fit these specialist pieces of costumes is important to me and I hope to pursue this skill throughout my career.

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